Downloadable PDF: Used Car Buyers Guide
1. Telephone interview (Is this car worth looking at?)
a. How many miles are on the vehicle? Color? Automatic or 5 speed?
b. Is the title clean (not reconstructed or totaled)? Original owner?
c. Has the vehicle been wrecked? (less important on an older vehicle)
d. Has the vehicle been smoked in?
e. Do you have a dog or cat?
f. Do you have all of the service records?
g. How much oil does it use between oil changes? (1 quart is acceptable)
h. Does it need any mechanical or body repairs?
2. Interior conditions.
a. Does it smell like cigarettes or animals?
b. Are there cigarette burns on the carpet or door panels?
c. Has it recently been cleaned to hide smells?
d. Does it smell musty from mildew?
e. Look under seats and in trunk for signs of mud, rust, or silt.
3. Exterior conditions.
a. Look for signs of body damage. Is there paint overspray on tires or window seals?
b. Is there excessive rust showing on bolts under the hood or under the vehicle?
c. What kind of condition are the tires in? Are all 4 the same brand?
4. Engine compartment
a. Pull oil dipstick. Is the dipstick black (not the oil on it)?
b. If possible, remove oil cap and inspect inside engine. Is it clean?
5. Test drive
a. Does the engine rattle when cold, warmed up or all the time?
b. Is there smoke coming from tail pipe when the vehicle is cold? (condensation is normal when cold) Any smoke when revving engine after it is warmed up?
c. Does it steer straight?
d. Are there any unusual noises while driving?
e. Are any of the dash warning lights on?
f. Does everything work? Lights, turn signals, wipers, air conditioner, heater, windows, etc